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The word spread fast among the children wondering what the visitors from the United States were painting inside the community center at Esperanza, their sugar-cane village.

It was a mural featuring the verse John 14:27 (“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”) and painted handprints.

It wasn’t long before Abby Hurst and the other painters from Triad Baptist had scores of volunteers wanting to add their painted hands to the wall and work.

“Even since I came back from the Dominican Republic this summer it has really been on my heart to find a way to raise money to help the ministry down there,” said Hurst, 17, a member of Triad’s Radiate high school youth ministry who visited the country June 17-24 through a missions trip by the Doulos Sunday School Class.

Led by Tony Krofchik, the trip was the first overseas missions trip by a Sunday School community.

Hurst traveled to the Dominican Republic with her dad, Steve, and other Doulos class members to support the work of Dr. Wes Smith and his DR Vision ministry which includes: a church; Christian school; seminary; youth summer internship program; sports ministry; rescue home for orphaned girls and abused women; and community center outreach in Esperanza.

“When thinking of what to do to help the people in the Dominican Republic, I thought, ‘Who doesn’t love a T-shirt?’ ” Hurst said. “The people truly captivated my heart. It’s an indescribable thing to witness the longing the precious people there have — for love, for attention, for anything, and for everything and especially for something greater than themselves and the hole only Jesus can fill.”

Abby Hurst's T-shirt for the Dominican Republic

To buy a T-shirt and support Hurst’s project, complete and submit the order form on the Fund the Nations website — the company manufacturing the shirts. Or order by contacting Hurst at 336-692-5979 or Order by Oct. 29. Note: IE 11 users may have some issues ordering so try Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, or another browser.

The cost is $20, and all of the money goes to Smith’s DR Vision ministry.

While in Esperanza, Hurst and team painted the mural, taught Bible lessons, and led crafts. Elsewhere, and in addition to construction work completed by other team members, Hurst also got to teach Bible lessons and help lead crafts in San Pedro in the Mercy House home for orphan girls and women rescued from the sex trade and poverty.

Many are orphans and live in the home run by a local pastor and his wife where they learn to make jewelry and other items to sell so they can support themselves and their children and start new lives in Christ.

Hurst also delivered gifts bags from Doulos class members to the women and their children.

It’s the second fundraising project for overseas missions that Hurst, a senior at Calvary Day School and Triad member since 1998, has been involved with through the church and Triad’s Radiate high school ministry.

“What I enjoy most about our youth ministry is that when it comes down to it, I feel like our youth group is not afraid of being vulnerable,” Hurst said. “I think that is a very important quality of any group, and it is so encouraging to be part of a youth ministry and group of students like this.”

Smith called Hurst’s project the latest example of Triad’s support for the ministries he and his wife, Maria, lead in the Dominican Republic. The church has supported the Smiths for five years.

Abby Hurst in the Dominican Republic on her mission trip and today

“Maria and I are so blessed to be partnered with such a great church like Triad, and thank members for their financial and prayer support,” he said. “When the mission group came here last summer with Tony, we were blown away by both their involvement and work in the ministry, but also their love for our ministry.

“With the help of our interns and the missions group from Triad, we launched the ministry in Esperanza, and are working to build relationships with the people in the area as we serve to help their community, and hopefully plant a church there from these relationship-building activities.”

Smith said that proceeds from Hurst’s T-shirt project further those efforts and all DR Vision works in the country.

“Maria and I are just thrilled with the T-shirt fundraiser of Abby and the youth there at Triad not just for the funds it will raise to help us in our work at Esperanza and elsewhere, but also because it reflects the burden that was caught while here, and the desire to continue to be involved in missions,” Smith said.

Children adding their handprints to the mural the TBC mission team painted in Esperanza

Phase 2 Shot of TBC B&W 17

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